State of Kentucky Sues Full Tilt

+ UB throws a tourney for the Commonwealth

by , Apr 6, 2010 | 5:16 pm

So many socio-political hot-spots right now you’d think the 2010 WSOP were being played in the Paktika region of Afghanistan. Poker’s legal quandaries keep growing … as the industry’s longtime adversaries in Kentucky have filed suit against Pocket Kings, the alleged dba for Full Tilt.

Here’s the actual complaint, filed two weeks ago in Franklin Circuit Court. You’ll see they spell out a host of alleged infractions by Full Tilt according to Kentucky state law against the citizens of Kentucky. And thus, they’re seeking to have all rake and player losses refunded.

They’re also calling out the company and its principals in harsh terms, saying Full Tilt is based on a series of shell companies to conceal their identities and avoid legal responsibilities, and labels Full Tilt defendants as “shams” and “alteregos” of each other and different individuals. We’re guessing they don’t have much case law on the role of avatars and multiaccounting Terms of Service agreements in poker. No word on whether or not Joan Rivers will be called to testify.

They’ve named other sites as well as having committed the same alleged crimes — including Doyles Room, Ultimate Bet, PokerStars, TruePoker, and more than 100 others. This way, should they win their case against Full Tilt, they’d be able to apply the same ruling to all these other online poker entities upon identifying who they are.

This is all happening as the Kentucky Court of Appeals considers arguments claiming that Imega has no standing to represent online poker defendants any more than NAMBLA would have standing to represent Catholic priests.

But lest you think the state of Kentucky is simply anti-poker, next month is the Derby Poker Championship — “Go All-In for Kids and the Climate” — an event hosted by Phil Hellmuth, Robert Williamson, III, and Denny Crum. Perhaps even more fascinating are the sponsors: Jim Beam (wouldn’t the WSOP kill for that relationship?), (Kentucky’s ready-to-go online gambling site), and

16 Comments to “State of Kentucky Sues Full Tilt ”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    Those contingency lawyers Kentucky hired must have been working overtime to come up with this lawsuit.

  2. grungedave

    “They’ve named other sites as well as having committed the same alleged crimes — including Doyles Room, Ultimate Bet, PokerStars, TruePoker, and more than 100 others. This way, should they win their case against Full Tilt, they’d be able to apply the same ruling to all these other online poker entities upon identifying who they are.”

    Not so fast on that one… without naming UB, PokerStars, etc. as actual defendants in this case, any future lawsuit will fail to have res judicata/collateral estoppel effect against any third party (even if referenced on the record). It would make their case *easier* but it wouldn’t make it a slam dunk against all the other online site entities.

  3. Brian G.


    You obviously don’t know anything about which you speak. The lawsuit is well-pled and let me tell you, Full Tilt is in deep you-know-what. In fact, I would love to get the contract from my state to sue Full Tilt on behalf of its citizens. Online poker is stealing from the small games, and has been from day one. There is no doubt in my mind. I can tell you that this other governors and attorneys general will be watching and will smell revenue. This is only the beginning.

  4. Brian G.


    You are right it won’t have res judicata effect but it will have another effect. It will make the other sites pony up some dough real fast.

  5. Jess

    Sigh. It always has to be Kentucky who concocts these crazy ideas, doesn’t it?

    This is either the 3rd or 4th year of the Derby Poker Championship, though this is the first year they are holding it on the KY side of the river rather than at the Horeshoe Southern Indiana.

    After looking over the website for Hurt, Crosbie and May, the Lexington-based law firm behind this preposterous case, it seems as though most of their staff has connection to state lobbying organizations, including a past stint serving as general council for the KY Lottery (

    I, for one, can’t wait to hear how they propose FTP calculates the $ lost by KY residents over the past five years. I would think that would be a virtually impossible figure to qualify.

  6. DanM

    @grungedave they do indeed name all the other 140 domains as defendants. They are just “unknown defendants”. You’ve got me thinking I might have stretched my conclusion on this one … but why then would they include such “unknown defendants”.

    @Jess interesting that they moved it into the borders (with, no less!). Curious if this is a conscious effort to make a statement (to If it is, I don’t get it.

  7. Jess

    I don’t think it is a statement as much as a practical move. The Derby Championship was not getting much of a turnout because 1) they previously held the event immediately after the race while people were still partying it up and 2) because it is a good 20-30 minute drive from downtown Louisville to the boat. The new day and venue should ideally solve both those problems.

  8. CK

    re: “unknown defendants” – My guess is that they may not have sufficient information (names of all of the legal entities responsible for the operations of those websites, number of KY resident players on those websites, etc.) to plead with any specificity as to those “unknown defendants”.

  9. grungedave


    you are right that they indicated the owners of the other sites are defendants, but they haven’t been properly named as yet. Until then, these other sites may lack standing to dispute the claims (because they aren’t just going to show up at court randomly one day and make it easy on Kentucky).

    Either way, I’m gonna have to disagree with Brian on the competency of the pleading itself. Considering the most recent case law cited was from 1952 – long before the Wire Tap Act or any internet jurisdiction cases – Kentucky has a lot of work to do. In essence, the Complaint doesn’t really say or do anything other than name a bunch of names and call its own citizens losers.

  10. Brian G.


    All that is required is “notice pleading” (since fraud isn’t alleged). Now I don’t know the intracacies of Kentucky law, but I would bet the complaint will pass master if the law is as alleged.

    All of the internet sites are in deep trouble, one way or another. I’d love to be on either side of the case, come to think of it.


    How can they sue Full tilt when Pocket Kings is not even a USA Company? The state with the biggest gambling sport, Horse Racing, has nothing better to do then try and make a name for itself going after the losses of their citizens who play on-line.

    Heres mud in your eye Kentucky

  12. DanM

    ***The state with the biggest gambling sport, Horse Racing, has nothing better to do then try and make a name for itself going after the losses of their citizens who play on-line***

    Scorr, your comment surprises me. How many times have “your people” (aka The 5-0) been doing their job to hear someone say, “Why don’t you catch the real criminals, like the murderers and drug dealers?” (unless of course they are drug dealers, in which case they leave off that last part, and possibly replace it with “child molestors”).

    While I understand how a civil case like this one might be political in nature, the prosecutors here are just doing their jobs, trying to enforce the laws on their books. The state of Kentucky is not being anti-poker, they’re being anti-poker-without-their-state’s-gambling-industry-getting-its-cut. So why not try to bring someone to trial when you know who they are and think they might be flouting your laws?

    Again, not saying I wouldn’t be rooting for FTP if I were watching these proceedings on Court TV. But we have to understand that the current aggression from Kentucky should hardly come as a surprise to any of us. If we are Full Tilt, we made a conscious choice how to proceed in this situation, and may have underestimated the Commonwealth’s holding.

  13. grungedave


    I am well aware of the concept of notice pleading. I never said that the Complaint would get dismissed for a failure to state a claim (or Kentucky’s equivalent). I’m just saying that the Complaint itself doesn’t really say anything of value. It identifies a bunch of websites, but doesn’t say much else other than citing a few Kentucky statutes that may not even be applicable here. And the case law cited in support is from the pre-Eisenhower era. Not exactly exciting stuff.



    We,the 5-0 such as me a Street Cop have to obey the Higher ups when it comes to certain things. However as a street cop I have discretionary powers as long as a Felony has not been committed or a serious misdemeanor.

    We don’t make a habit of doing things that will waste tax payer dollars, we truly do go after murderers, rapist,burglars, and Child Molesters. We currently have been focusing on graffiti since we received federal money to go after those who deface our properties, it’s a big thing here in LA.

    Our Departments conviction rate of murderers is in the high 90%. We do not go after companies out of the Country that have not harmed the citizens of LA or California such as on-line poker.

    If the On-Line industry was so bad and our country was worried how much our citizens are losing/winning why have the feds not sued? Just the uppity ups in New York and Kentucky who are trying to make a name for themselves when in a few years, on-line will be legal in the USA and those wasted tax payer dollars could have been used for something different.

    Are you a member of the PPA? I know your not a big supporter of Law Enforcement but your site here is read by so many in the Poker community and isn’t Poker how you make a living as well as some writing?

    I know your just stating some facts but Kentucky is doing this for all the wrong reasons.

  15. DanM

    I am indeed a member of the PPA. But I don’t give them carte blanche in all things politics. I recognize they have their own set of “special interest”s, too.

    Everything else you say makes good sense — especially the street cop’s use of taxpayer dollars. But if that’s the debate here, then that’s the prosecutor’s defense as well. Spending X millions now to go after these guys will likely help Kentucky get XO millions in the future — regardless of the result of this lawsuit, which may well be a dog-and-pony show.

    But I’m just saying it’s too easy to blame the authorities for going off the deep end here. It’s like questioning how on earth someone could call a re-re-raise with A-8 offsuit. Almost doesn’t matter. The rules allow it, and on a flop of A-8-x, all the complaining in the world won’t make your A-K any better.

    OK, I’m gonna go sit in a corner now for my terrible use of a thin poker metaphor.


    My point exactly, Kentucky is Calling a BIG raise with the deadmans hand,A-8 a Huge bluff. 🙂

    Thanks Dan, using Poker metaphor’s is ok with me.Also just to let you know I am no longer affiliated with fallen heroes. Long story, but my board of directors voted me off because I would not except a “censor” for offending another board member. My own foundation, go figure. So you will not be seeing a lot of me at events promoting anything. But I will be at WSOP playing at least 2 of them this year.

    Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion here at times.